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University of Tuscia April 2014 Lecture 3


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University of Tuscia April 2014 Lecture 3

  1. 1. Language revitalisation: the case of Dieri, South Australia Peter K. Austin Department of Linguistics SOAS, University of London University of Tuscia 2014-04-11
  2. 2. Over the past 4 years  I have been involved, on and off, with the Dieri Aboriginal Corporation (South Australia) on a project to revitalise the Dieri (Diyari) language  The project began in 2008 when the South Australian Education Department wanted to develop materials for language teaching and employed teacher-linguist Greg Wilson to do so  Today‟s talk discusses the project and what I have learned about doing research in the process
  3. 3. Thanks to  The Dieri Aboriginal Corporation  Office for the Arts – DAC ILS grant  Greg Wilson, independent education professional  SOAS for granting research leave during which workshops have been carried out  Many Dieri friends who have taught me more than they might think
  4. 4. The take home messages from today  Your research might turn out to be valuable and useful in ways that you never imagine, and a long time after you did it  Well-organised research and well-managed data and analysis can be repurposed  Collect lots of metadata – you never know when you might need it  Be prepared to do some work to try to make sense of the ideologies and beliefs of members about language of the speech community with whom you work
  5. 5. and …  Be prepared to do some work to try to make sense of your own ideologies and beliefs about language, and try not to let them get in your way  Park your politics at the door  It can be really useful to learn to speak the language that you are working on, maybe in ways you did not imagine  Be prepared to try things out, even if you are not completely sure they will work – take risks  The worst that can happen is you fail and feel embarrassed
  6. 6. and finally …  Appreciate others for their talents and knowledge and forgive them for their gaps (and hope they will do the same for you)  There is no magic recipe for language revitalisation, just what works
  7. 7. Bethesda Lutheran Mission, Killalpaninna, 1910
  8. 8. Language use and literacy in Dieri  1907 – 1914 postcards in Dieri written by Rebecca Maltilina to Dorothea (Dora) Ruediger at Bethesda mission (see Aboriginal History 1986)  1940s and 1950s letters by several Dieri speakers to Theodor (Ted) Vogelsang, son of lay mission helper Hermann Vogelsang about their daily lives, sharing news about what was going on among the community
  9. 9. Mission closed  1915 – South Australian government orders closure of all German-owned properties; Dieri join Aboriginal camps on stations to south (Wire Yard, Mulka, Finnis Springs, Muloorina, Murnpeowie and Mundowdna) looking for work, and also further east, around Broken Hill  Missionaries and their descendants continue to visit Dieri yearly until 1960s
  10. 10. (Pseudo)-linguistic research  1937 – Fry collection of traditional Dieri stories written by Sam Dintibana with glosses by Ted Vogelsang  1938-41 – Berndt and Vogelsang texts and vocabulary in mission spelling (except ŋ for ng), word-by-word gloss by Ted Vogelsang  1953 – Berndt ethnographic text purporting to describe pre-contact day in the life of a Dieri man. Sydney (Capell) spelling
  11. 11. Linguistic research  1968-70 David Trefry – Dieri phonetics  1968-72 Luise Hercus – Alec Edwards, Ben Murray recordings  1974 Peter Austin BA Honours thesis on Dieri  1975-1978 Peter Austin PhD thesis on grammar of Dieri  1981 A Grammar of Diyari, South Australia CUP  1980s Papers on literacy, texts, biography of Ben Murray  Late 1980s end of Austin‟s active research
  12. 12. My involvement  In 1974 (yes, that‟s 40 years ago!) I did the 4th (honours) year of my undergraduate studies at ANU in Canberra in Linguistics – as part of this I did fieldwork in northern SA on Diyari, which then had about 12 fluent speakers who had learnt it as a 1st or 2nd language as children (English was their 3rd or 4th language)  I wrote my Honours dissertation on Diyari and then went on 1975-1978 to do my PhD on Diyari
  13. 13. Outcomes  “A Grammar of Diyari, South Australia” 1981  Several published articles on morphosyntax, and historical reconstruction  Several published texts  A study of literacy practices during the missionary period (1860 to 1915), Ben Murray biography  Compiled materials for a dictionary (never published)  Archived 50 hours of tape-recordings with AIATSIS  Active research ended in late 1980s
  14. 14. Eastern Lake Eyre languages 2010
  15. 15. Community developments 1990s-  Formation of Dieri Aboriginal Corporation – 600 members in Maree, Lyndhurst, Broken Hill, Port Augusta, Whyalla  DAC purchases properties, Port Augusta & Broek Hill  Purchase of Maree Station and camp ground – handover at dawn 20th September 2008  ABC news story
  16. 16. Agreement with Santos 2011
  17. 17. Native title May 2012 (lodged 1997)
  18. 18.  This Consent Determination covers some 47,000 square kilometres of land, with part of its south- eastern boundary extending into the Strzelecki Regional Reserve and part of its western boundary extending into the Lake Eyre National Park  Lander v State of South Australia [2012] FCA 427 (1 May 2012)
  19. 19. Dieri Yawarra project 2008-2010  Greg Wilson (then at Department of Education and Children‟s Services) co-ordinated Dieri Yawarra resulting in print resource and CD-ROM.  Greg worked with Dieri Resources Development Group in Port Augusta, most of whom are now involved with the current ILS project.  15 interactive components introducing learners to Dieri vocabulary and grammar, like Ngakarni palku „my body‟ or Karnaya putu „people‟s things‟.
  20. 20. Ngayana Dieri Yawarra Yathayilha  2010-2011 development of language lessons for schools on model of Arabana programme, Powerpoint shows, not published  Recordings of 2000 sound files, mostly vocabulary and simple sentences  Bernard Schebeck processes Reuther dictionary  Peter Austin meets Port Augusta group, August 2010, identifies fluency levels  Application for ILS grant by DAC 2011  Grant awarded July 2012, project began October 2012
  21. 21. Auntie Rene Warren 2010
  22. 22. ILS project  2013 workshops February Adelaide, March Port Augusta, April Adelaide, August Port Augusta  Materials development – songs, bilingual dictionary, Willsden Primary school language programme  Blog  71 posts (February-February), 5,288 page views (as of 2014-03-18), still getting 20-30 views per day  Community engagement process
  23. 23. Dieri mob February 2013
  24. 24. Dictionary
  25. 25. Semantic fields
  26. 26. Songs  Popular vehicle for revitalisation, most frequent genre in language revival programmes – e.g. Greg Wilson translation song  I collected lots of traditional songs in 1970s and thought people would want to learn them, eg. curlew song  But I was very wrong – no interest in this, but rather in songs that were much more significant (and for which I had to park my ideology and politics)
  27. 27. Songs (of significance)
  28. 28. The Cooper’s coming down! beyond/clip2/
  29. 29. March 2013 workshop, 4 generations
  30. 30. Music maestro
  31. 31. Straight to Facebook
  32. 32. The words in Dieri Ngathu traina ngarayi yara wakararnanhi Ngathu wata dityi nhayirna warayi Jailanhi nganha kurrarna Folsom Prisonanhi Ya traina wapayilha San Antonaya.
  33. 33. The Dieri language blog  An experiment in writing  Multimedia information about the ILS project  Language lessons  Dialogues with sound files and explanations – see ya-pirtanhi-ngamayi/  To date: 71 posts, 5,288 views from around the world
  34. 34. The most popular posts?  The first blog post that caused a major reaction and emails to me from users was this one  It took me 9 months to try out cartoons, and to realise they would get such a positive reaction – my prejudice (ignorance) stood in the way  People especially liked ones in colour like this  Material that contains “mistakes” can also be pressed into service, eg. Greg Wilson‟s recording that I turned into a game  Lingo-bingo was a risky experiment that worked
  35. 35. Interim summary  40 years ago Dieri people were living in tin shacks on the margins of Marree, Port Augusta, Broken Hill
  36. 36.  Today, 2 generations later, we have major changes:  A clear corporate identity  Ownership of land  Recognition of traditional ownership and relationships with miners  Strong political leadership, championing language issues  Enthusiastic community participation (10% of DAC participating in each workshop)
  37. 37. For the language  Desire and willingness to learn  Good resource base – funds, recordings (Austin 50 hours, Hercus 12 hours, Wilson 2,000 files), grammar, dictionary, talented and well-trained community members (teachers, health professionals, singer etc.), highly experienced teacher-linguist, available linguist who worked with previous generations
  38. 38. Challenges  DAC internal politics  Fluent speakers all old and very shy, good semi- speakers shy and “expensive”  Issues of planning, processes and flexibility  Lack of staff with back office skills  Monitoring and evaluation lacking  School programme implementation  Availability of teacher-linguist and linguist  …
  39. 39. Language revitalisation  “Language revitalization, language revival or reversing language shift is the attempt by interested parties, including individuals, cultural or community groups, governments, or political authorities, to reverse the decline of a language … Although the goals of language revitalization vary by community and situation, a goal of many communities is to return a language that is extinct or endangered to daily use. The process of language revitalization is the reverse of language death” (Wikipedia)  But intergenerational transmission is not the only worthwhile outcome of language revitalisation – e.g. Dorian 1987; Austin & Sallabank 2014 on the importance of the concomitant revitalisation of people
  40. 40. Issues with revitalisation  Some linguists are opposed. Dimmendaal (2004: 84): “Revitalisation, in my view, should not be given high priority. When individuals decide to give up their mother tongue, they usually have good reasons for doing so.” Blench (2007: 53): “Almost by definition it is hardly worthwhile to spend limited resources on languages whose speakers seem to be deserting them.”  Lack of funding support (cf. ELDP, DoBeS, DEL)  Poor intellectual cousin of documentation
  41. 41. More issues  Some examples of practice but virtually no theory  Weak ethnography (meta-documentation)  Anecdotal reports but little scientific analysis  Political quagmire  In Australia  Much of rhetoric about language revival is based on “basket cases” (Amery, Giacon, Zuckerman)  Dieri, Arabana and Adnyamathanha are different  Pedagogy issues – ACARA
  42. 42. So what did I learn about research?  My work done 40 years ago turned out to be valuable and useful in ways that I never imagined at the time  The data and analysis could be repurposed  Metadata is an important key to usability  Tying to understand ideologies and beliefs and when they can get in the way is important  The theories promoted by linguists (eg. pidginisation as a mechanism for revitalisation, intergenerational transmission as paramount) can be totally rejected by the community
  43. 43. and …  I had to leave my politics aside and let the participants in the process set agendas (eg. about songs)  It was incredibly valuable that I had learnt how to speak Diyari (and could remember how to!)  I took risks, even when I was not sure if things would work, and mostly they did  I came to undertand that sometimes you fail – people were incredibly forgiving and willing to laugh about it and move on
  44. 44. and finally …  There is no magic recipe for language revitalisation, just what works
  45. 45. Thank you!